NAATCO to present OUR TOWN by Thornton Wilder in celebration of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, with Amy Hill as the Stage Manager
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 12:36 pm EDT 04/21/21

To Present a Benefit Reading of
by Thornton Wilder
In Celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Streamed for One Night Only: Wednesday, May 19th

With Amy Hill as the Stage Manager
Featuring Cindy Cheung, Kassandra Cordova, Autumn Domingo, Connor Domingo, Ron Domingo, John D. Haggerty, Midori Francis Iwama, Yumi Iwama, Paul Juhn, Peter Kim, Glenn Kubota, Clara Haru Mulligan, Olivia Oguma, Trevor Salter, Jon Norman Schneider, Alok Tewari, CJ Uy, Izaac Wang, and Rita Wolf

Mia Katigbak, co-founder and actor-manager of NAATCO, today announced that NAATCO will present a virtual reading of Our Town by Thornton Wilder with an all-Asian American cast for one night only, Wednesday May 19th, at 8pm, in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The proceeds of this reading will benefit the company.

Yumi Iwama, who portrayed Emily Webb in NAATCO's 1994 production of the play, proposed the reading to NAATCO, following her recent interview with The New York Times: "The idea that I was this Asian actress playing this iconic American role was just daunting. I remember being in kind of a high emotional state throughout the run, because I really wanted to do it well. And I loved Emily. She didn't have these issues of 'Do I belong here?' She was part of this town, part of this community. She just lives her life with abandon in a way that I never felt I had the license to. I grew up in a very white town, Rumson, N.J., and I was one of maybe two or three Asians in my entire high school. It was hard. My career started doing The King and I . I played Tuptim in seven different productions over the years. Emily was that first opening to me, that 'Oh! Maybe there'll be more to my career than these stereotypical Asian characters.'"

For this reading, Yumi will be playing the role of Emily's mother, Mrs. Webb, and suggested her niece, Midori Francis Iwama (Usual Girls - Roundabout, The Wolves - Lincoln Center Theater), for the role of Emily. NAATCO enthusiastically agreed.

Amy Hill (best known for her TV work, from "All-American Girl" to the reboot of "Magnum P.I." as well as "American Dad," "Black-ish," "Mom," "Hawaii Five-0," "Grey's Anatomy," and more) will lead the cast as the Stage Manager, along with Cindy Cheung, Kassandra Cordova, Autumn Domingo, Connor Domingo, Ron Domingo, John D. Haggerty, Midori Francis Iwama, Yumi Iwama, Paul Juhn, Peter Kim (NAATCO's associate producer), Glenn Kubota (who played Mr. Charles Webb in the 1994 production), Clara Haru Mulligan, Olivia Oguma, Trevor Salter, Jon Norman Schneider, Alok Tewari, CJ Uy, Izaac Wang, and Rita Wolf. Special guests will include Richard Eng, the co-founder of NAATCO and president of the board; Larry Schafer, NAATCO board member; Susan Bernfield, New Georges' Artistic Director; Maria Striar, Clubbed Thumb's Artistic Director; and Kate Katigbak, NAATCO's graphic designer.

Mia Katigbak will direct the performance; Sean Seau is the assistant director; Alyssa K. Howard will be production stage manager; Miranda Cornell will be production assistant.

NAATCO is delighted to be working with Virtual Design Collective (VidCo) on this project. They are newly founded collective of over 20 designers, programmers, and technicians using innovative ways to tell stories and create communities online.

"The decision to do this reading came on the heels of the Georgia senate elections, when we thought an all-Asian American cast performing an American classic would be part of a celebration of hope and healing after the devastating events earlier in the month. Recent events of anti-Asian violence, however, have reframed our presentation. With this reading, we denounce the brutal and senseless attacks on Asian Americans as we underscore one of the basic tenets of NAATCO's mission in the most affirmative way: to reflect and emphasize the kinship among people of disparate cultures," said Ms. Katigbak.

NAATCO wishes to express its gratitude to the Performers' Unions: ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN GUILD OF MUSICAL ARTISTS, AMERICAN GUILD OF VARIETY ARTISTS, and SAG-AFTRA through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the Artists to appear on this program.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. NAATCO joins The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America's history and are instrumental in its future success.

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was a novelist and playwright whose works celebrate the connection between the commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience. He is the only writer to win Pulitzer Prizes for both drama and fiction: for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, and two plays, Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth. His other nov­els include The Cabala, The Woman of Andros, Heaven's My Destination, The Ides of March, The Eighth Day and Theophilus North. His other major dramas include The Matchmaker (adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly!) and The Alcestiad. The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden, Pullman Car Hiawatha and The Long Christmas Dinner are among his well-known shorter plays. He enjoyed enormous success as a translator, adaptor, actor, librettist and lecturer/teacher and his screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt remains a classic psycho-thriller to this day. Wilder's many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. More information on Thornton Wilder and his family is available in Penelope Niven's definitive biography, Thornton Wilder: A Life (2013) as well as on the Wilder Family website, www.thorntonwilder.com

NAATCO was founded in 1989 by Mia Katigbak and Richard Eng to assert the presence and significance of Asian American theatre in the United States, demonstrating its vital contributions to the fabric of American culture. NAATCO puts into service its total commitment to Asian American theatre artists to more accurately represent onstage the multi- and inter-cultural dynamics of our society. By doing so, they demonstrate a rich tapestry of cultural difference bound by the American experience. The enrichment accrues to each different culture as well as to America as a whole. NAATCO was the recipient of the Obies' Ross Wetzsteon Award, the Lucille Lortel Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women for their work "highlighting the multi- and intercultural dynamics of our society" and the Rosetta LeNoire Award from Actors' Equity Association in recognition of its contribution toward increasing diversity and non-traditional casting in American theatre. NAATCO was recently nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play, as well as Outstanding Costume Design for a Play for their acclaimed production of Henry VI: Shakespeare's Trilogy in Two Parts in 2018. Additionally, NAATCO's Mia Katigbak was honored in 2019 by a Special Drama Desk Award: "the backbone of the Off-Broadway scene, we acclaim her for her performances this season in Henry VI: Shakespeare's Trilogy in Two Parts, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, Peace for Mary Frances and Recent Alien Abductions. This award also recognizes her vital presence as the artistic director of NAATCO and her sustained excellence as a performer and mentor."

For tickets to Our Town or more information about all of NAATCO's programs, visit naatco.org.
Link http://naatco.org

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